Most of us occasionally feel down or blue, having a brief low mood -- it is a natural reaction to stress and tension.
If the blues or down feelings are severe or prolonged, and interfere with enjoyment of life, you may be undergoing a prolonged mood change.
4 to 8 million Americans are treated for depression every year and the numbers are increasing. In a recent poll, 52% of the adults questioned admitted that they felt depressed and lonely.
People who are depressed often have a hard time thinking clearly or recognizing their own symptoms.
If you have four or more of the symptoms listed here for two or more weeks, you may be suffering from depression.
Here is what to look for...
General Loss of Interest. You feel emotional flatness or emptiness. You can't seem to find pleasure in anything.
Withdrawal. You want to stay away from people and activities.
Chronic Fatigue and Lack of Energy. You tire easily and have little desire to get things done.
Neglect. You don't care about your responsibilities or you let your appearance go.
Sleeping Too Much or Insomnia. Your sleeping patterns have changed or you use sleep to avoid or escape feelings or tasks. Insomnia, early morning wakefulness or excessive sleeping.
Poor Memory. You can't seem to remember where you put things or what you were wanting to do.
Irritability. Trivial thing that you use to take in stride now make you feel annoyed, impatient, restless or jumpy.
Anxiety. You feel panicky, restless or agitated.
Suicidal Thoughts. From brief thoughts of wishing you were dead to contemplating suicide.
Indecision. You may be confused and find to concentrate, even the smallest decisions can be overwhelming.
Hopeless. You may feel there is nothing that can be done to help you and/or a feeling worthless.
Appetite problems. You may be losing or gaining weight.
Digestive problems. You may suffer indigestion, stomach pain, nausea, or changes in bowel habits.
Loss of Sexual Desire. You may have little or no interest in sexual activities.
Guilt. You have exaggerated self-blame or feel guilty and don't know why.
The most important this anyone can do for depression is to get an appropriate diagnosis and the proper treatment.
Don't ignore symptoms of depression. Get help!